Ten weeks of summer: Physical Facilities prepares for 2014-2015 school year

Summer physical facilities work includes overseeing the completion of Mays Chapel Elementary School

Summer physical facilities work includes overseeing the completion of Mays Chapel Elementary School

When the local pool opens, Baltimore County Public Schools closes for the summer, right? Not quite.

Of the school system’s 18,783 employees, 1,032 work in the BCPS central offices. While some of those 1,032 employees hold 10-month positions, most central office staff hold 12-month positions and spend the summer months preparing for the next school year.

For each of the 10 weeks of summer, a 12-month central office employee will answer a series of questions about his or her staff’s preparations and projects for the 2014-2015 school year. This week, Blake Lubinski, an intern in the Department of Communications and Community Outreach, interviewed Chris Roberts, a special assistant in the Department of Physical Facilities.

Blake Lubinski: “What role has your department played in the school system?”

Chris Roberts: “The Department of Physical Facilities has constructed, operated and maintained the requisite infrastructure to provide the best possible educational environments for Baltimore County’s student population.”

BL: “What are the responsibilities of your department?”

CR: “The Department of Physical Facilities is responsible for the physical management of 173 schools, centers and programs, housing over 108,000 students, along with 16 administrative, maintenance, grounds, warehouse and transportation buildings. The mission of the Department of Physical Facilities is to provide Baltimore County Public Schools’ facilities with a full, 21st-century instructional capability that addresses student enrollment trends and incorporates future flexibility. We aim to support fully the highest performance of students and staff while accommodating enrollment projections and providing for the safety, comfort and wellbeing for every student. We work with the understanding that we are an integral part of the educational process.”

BL: “How do those responsibilities change during the summer?”

CR: “The Department of Physical Facilities plans a robust and comprehensive schedule of projects during each summer season.

“The Office of Engineering and Construction (OEC) performs a major portion of the capital program during the summer months when the schools are minimally-occupied. This allows hazardous material abatement to commence during the entire week instead of only on the weekends and results in schedules that are much more flexible and continuous. OEC has nearly 80 major projects to design and/or construct during the summer of 2014.

“The Office of Maintenance, Grounds and Logistics uses the school system’s summer break to accomplish tasks that are more efficiently addressed when BCPS buildings are less occupied. It is important to note that emergency conditions – power outages, water main breaks, storm damage, etc. – are the highest priority and have the potential to impact projects currently planned for the summer.

“The Office of Operations coordinates the thorough and deep cleaning of all schools throughout the summer with the school’s administrative team. Additionally, this office is responsible for continuous operation of the physical plant of all schools and offices throughout the summer as well as basic preventive maintenance on all heating ventilation and air conditioning equipment. “The Office of Operations works closely with the Offices of Engineering and Construction; Maintenance, Grounds and Logistics; and Alternative Education, which runs summer school, to provide the necessary cleaning of the buildings and preparation for the start of the new school year.”

BL: “What are your department’s goals for the upcoming school year?”

CR: “The Department’s goals for the upcoming school year include consistently providing educational environments that are conducive to high student achievement for every child in every school, every day; assessing the current status of all facilities; and accommodating increasing student enrollment.”

BL: “How is your department preparing to meet those goals?”

CR: “We are preparing to meet those goals first by consistently implementing the BCPS Service Model in an effort to provide the highest quality services to all schools and offices. We also will be developing and executing a systematic, equitable facilities modernization plan that addresses the increasing age of school campuses and provides for upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in order to provide the best possible environments for teaching and learning.”

Looks like lounging poolside will have to wait – summers like these just go to show that there’s no such thing as a “slowdown” for Team BCPS!

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